History & Genealogy of
Presented by Illinois Genealogy Trails

©Kim Torp

riverside map

10 miles west of the Loop. On the Des Plaines River, Riverside was designed in 1868 by Frederick Law Olmsted, the nation's most famous landscape architect.

The village was incorporated in 1875 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

History .....

"In 1863 the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad was built through the area, and five years later a group of local investors decided to take advantage of both the railroad and the uniquely attractive site where it crossed the Des Plaines River. Forming the Riverside Improvement Company, they purchased a 1,600-acre tract of land along the river and hired Frederick Law Olmsted of New York to design an elite suburban community. Olmsted and his partner, Calvert Vaux, were already famous for creating Central Park in New York City. Their reputation, plus the lovely curvilinear streets, open spaces, and attractive village center they designed for Riverside, attracted Chicago's elite. By the fall of 1871 a number of large, expensive houses were occupied or under construction and an elegant hotel had opened. Unfortunately for the developers, the Chicago Fire of 1871 drained away both construction crews and capital from the village. The financial panic of 1873 compounded the company's troubles and it went bankrupt.

The demise of the improvement company brought new construction nearly to a halt for some time. A village government was established in September 1875 and Olmsted's original development plan remained in force. In 1893 several wealthy local residents formed an association and opened the Riverside Golf Club, one of the oldest golf clubs in the Chicago area. Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, William Le Baron Jenney, and several other prominent local architects drew the plans for houses that still stand in the village. A striking Romanesque village hall was built in 1895, and in 1901 the Burlington line constructed a charming stone railroad station." [Source: Encyclopedia of Chicago]

Cemeteries .....

Forest Park Cemeteries which are located within a mile of Riverside: Woodlawn, Free Sons, Menorah Gardens, Waldheim Jewish, Forest Home

Data Online.....

1880 Mortality Index for Riverside

Important Addresses.....

The Riverside Library is walking distance from Lyons, and has resources to help with genealogical research. They carry microfilm of newspapers, including the Suburban Life/Citizen, dating to 1963, the Riverside Landmark going back to 1985, and the Riverside News from 1912 to 1963. Riverside also has phone books for every year starting with 1975 for the Riverside/Cicero/Berwyn area, and also issues for 1972, 1969, 1968 and 1958. They have the Riverside Directory for the years 1903-06, 1909-16, 1925 and 1928-29 which lists business and residential phone numbers. Only the 1925 and 1928-29 editions list Lyons, Brookfield, Congress Park, Hollywood and North Riverside.

Riverside Public Library
1 Burling Road
Riverside, IL 60546-2259
(708) 442-6366
Fax (708) 442-9462

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